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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Acronym You Don't Know Can Hurt You

I have mentioned in other posts (see "The Rules Have Changed) that we are now in a very strong buyer's market and that employers are being more selective than ever before simply because there is no reason not to be with so many outstanding, qualified candidates available for most jobs.  Because employers are being so much more selective, it is more challenging than ever to have your resume viewed by a pair of human eyes.  The reason is that most large employers and many smaller ones as well are using ATS, which is the acronym for "Applicant Tracking Software."  ATS is used for many reasons, but one of the main ones is that it is a time saver for hiring managers. 

When you submit your resume electronically for a job post, it is scanned by the ATS for key words.  If your resume does not have those key words, it is eliminated and will never get to any decision maker in the organization. 

Anyone who has ever tried to advertise or sell a product on the Internet is aware of how Google changes its algorithm that determines where a particular ad shows up when someone is doing a search.  Search Engine Optimization companies and individuals are always trying to adjust their tools to fit the changes in the Google algorithm so that their ads can get "high placement" on the first page of results when someone launches a Google search. 

Just as SEO operators have to continually update their tools, resume writers have to stay on top of the sophisticated criteria that ATS uses in evaluating resumes.  Finding qualified, technically proficient employees is not the challenge today.  There are countless numbers of experienced, skilled, and highly qualified candidates for every job. The real challenge that companies face today is finding the type of person who is not only qualified, but who will fit well within the organizational culture. 

In order to find only those candidates who fit this parameter, the ATS is set up to screen out any resume that does not have words that describe the type of person the company is seeking to fill the position.  If your resume does not have the words that describe the type of person who will do well in the job and fit well within the company culture, it goes into the electronic graveyard, never to be seen again.

Most job seekers and most universities that advise students and graduates on resume preparation, styles, and formats have not made this adjustment.  The result is a lot of frustration and disappointment for those who send their resumes out for job after job and never get a response.

And that is the main reason that if your resume does not fit these new parameters, you should contact an experienced and savvy resume writing professional to help you get your resume past the ATS and in front of a hiring manager who can invite you in for an interview. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

How Technology Affects Your Job Search

It used to be that job seekers were competing with other candidates in the same geographic area for positions in most organizations.  Technology has changed the landscape considerably.  It may come as a surprise to many, but when you pull into the drive-thru lane of a fast-food restaurant and place your order through the speaker, there's an excellent chance that you will be speaking with someone in another country who will take your order and send it to the front of the restaurant where you will pick up your food.

If you want to build a new house, it's just as easy to contract with an architect in Mumbai, India to design the structure as it is to deal with someone locally.  The architect in Mumbai can send the construction design to your builder just as quickly as an architect on the other side of town can do it.

Need a new pair of shoes, but don't want to make a trip to the shoe store in the mall?  Zappos (now owned by Amazon) will offer you an astounding number of choices and then deliver your order to your home or office the next day.

More and more businesses and jobs within those businesses are being affected by communications technology where information can be transmitted anywhere in the world with the push of a button.  What this means to most of us is that proximity to where you are employed or to the company you want to buy from is almost irrelevant. 

So, what's the point of this information?  The point is that today, you are not competing for jobs with just those are in the same geographic area as are competing with candidates from all over the world!  That means that you really have to stand out from the crowd rather than blend into it if you want to put yourself into an advantageous competitive position for the job you want.

As a recruiter, I have seen thousands of resumes over the years, and at least 95% of them do a very poor job of making the candidates they represent look appealing to recruiters and hiring managers.  There are a lot of important "rules" in marketing, but one of the most important rules is that when your demand conditions change, you must also change your promotional strategy.

If your resume looks the same today as it looked before we entered the current very strong buyer's market seven years ago, it's time to re-evaluate it and ask yourself if it makes you stand out or just look like everyone else.  We can help you do that at no cost to you.  Just send it to us as an attachment to

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


In the first eight years of the new century, from 2000 until late 2008, the job market was very good for skilled, educated workers.  I started my recruiting business in January 2000, and every year for the next 8 years my business grew substantially from the previous year.  Companies were seeking new talent in all the areas I worked in, including sales, engineers, operations professionals, HR, and accounting/finance.  It was a good time to be a recruiter.

Things changed in a big way by the first quarter of 2009.  Most of us remember that the stock market took more than a 700 point nosedive in one day of October 2008 when the housing bubble burst. Within a very short time, the shock waves of the stock market downturn and the collapse of the housing market began to have a serious, negative affect on job creation in the US economy.  Not only did many companies stop hiring, layoffs and "downsizing" were common headlines.  In just a matter of months, the job market transformed from a strong seller's market where most candidates had multiple offers to a strong buyer's market where the hiring company had the upper-hand and there were dozens, sometimes hundreds, of people competing for the same job.

The most immediate impact of these market changes became very evident to me when my client companies stopped hiring.  Most of my business was in the manufacturing sector, and that sector was hit very hard by reductions in force, layoffs, downsizing, and many companies going out of business altogether.

Many workers who had been at the same company for decades found themselves suddenly and unexpectedly unemployed, and most of them had no clue about how to present themselves to other companies effectively in their searches for new jobs.  Many of these workers were skilled, experienced, and very capable in their fields, but they were woefully unprepared for marketing themselves in the "new" economy where employers had the upper hand.  In many ways it was like what someone goes through when they have been married or in a long-term relationship for many years, and then become widowed or divorced.  When they decide to get back into the dating game, they find that everything has changed, nothing is like is used to be, and the 'rules' of the game have changed dramatically.  If they were married before the turn of the century, chances are that they know nothing about online dating, which is how more than one third of married couples in America today found each other.  Online job search and marketing yourself through social media was a totally foreign concept to those who became unemployed in the economic downturn.

So here it is...the first rule of marketing yourself:  When demand conditions change, you must also change your promotional strategy.

I jokingly tell my friends that as a recruiter, I'm really just "Cupid" for industry, introducing two parties to each other and arranging dates (interviews).  If they kiss and get married (one hires the other), I get paid.   However, I am well aware that my corporate clients judge me by the quality of the candidates I present to them, and the only way they get an impression of what they think of a candidate is through that candidate's resume.  Unfortunately, most job seekers still use the same, tired, out-of-date resume style and content model that was common in the years prior to the economic downturn.  To make matters worse, most universities today are preaching to their students and graduates the same ineffective model for resumes that they have used for years.

What's the point here?  The point is simple...if you are looking for a job, and not just any job, but the job that you really want, you have exactly  one opportunity to make a good first impression.  That opportunity lasts about 6 seconds, the amount of time it takes for a recruiter or hiring manager to determine if your resume is one worth serious review or if it is thrown in the trash, literally or electronically.

That is why we are in the business or helping people with their resumes.  You can't get hired unless you get an interview, and you will not get an interview in today's market unless you have a great resume that gives the recruiter and/or the hiring manager what they want to see.

Albert Einstein once said "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".

If that describes your marketing plan for your job search, maybe it's time for a change.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Here's a very common scene...

I'm at a social gathering or some place where I have just met someone new.  We exchange the typical pleasantries, which generally leads to the inevitable question, "What do you do?"  I tell them that I'm a recruiter, and then they say, "Well, I need to tell my son/daughter/neighbor/cousin/friend about you and have them send you their resume.  He/she is interested in making a job change."  I typically smile, then say, "Well, that's not really what I do.  I find people for jobs, but I don't find jobs for people."  Then the person I'm talking to looks disappointed or maybe even a little embarrassed.  A few people have even appeared to be insulted from my response because they think that they were doing me a favor and I rejected it outright.  Believe me, I am not trying to be rude or insensitive, but there is no point in wasting someone's time or giving them an expectation that will not come to fruition.

I also get a lot of calls and emails from people who say, "You recruited my brother-in-law for a position at  XYZ Company, and he loves it.  Can you do the same for me?"  Then I try to explain the same thing to these job seekers.

One of the biggest misconceptions about what recruiters do is that they find jobs for people.  Candidates often think that all they need to do is send their resumes via email attachment to a recruiter and that recruiter will immediately get started on finding the ideal job for them.

It doesn't work that way.

Recruiters work solely for the organization that has given them the task of finding a person with specific skills and experience for a particular job in their organization.  The companies / organizations pay the fees, so that is where the recruiter will spend his/her time.  No recruiter is going to spend time and effort, uncompensated, searching for the ideal position for a job seeker.

In a typical week, I get 12 - 15 unsolicited resumes from people who ask me to keep their resume on file in case I have a client who can use their unique skill set and experience.  I file them electronically, but in my 15 years in the recruiting industry, I have found exactly one resume that resulted in an interview out of the thousands that I have received.  The reason is that most recruiters, including me, tend to specialize in industries that they know well and they do not try to be everything for everyone.  The great percentage of unsolicited resumes I receive are from people who are in industries that I do not represent or they have specific skills and experience that are not part of what my clients need.  So, statistically speaking, the chances that an unsolicited resume will come from someone who is in the field that I am searching for the ideal candidate for my client are remote at best.

If you are going to send your resume to a recruiter, take the time to be sure that the recruiter recruits in the field that you are pursuing.  Most recruiters' websites will tell you what areas they work in, and in many cases they may list the jobs that they are trying to fill for their clients.  I do not list those jobs on my website because it just encourages unqualified candidates to flood my inbox with resumes that are not even close to being a fit for the job...and it takes just as much time to evaluate a bad resume as it does to look at a good one.

Finally, if you send your resume to a recruiter or even directly to an organization that is trying to fill a position without using a recruiter, ask yourself if your resume actually contains the kind of information that will make someone want to talk to you.  We are in a strong buyer's market now, and if your resume is just the typical "name, contact information, education, work history' format, it probably will not get past the 4 - 6 second review that most resumes get.  We can help you with that if you don't know what those elements are that should be included.